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Hunting and Management of 

WHITE-TAILED DEER 

in Missouri 




Serving nature and you 



Hunting and Management of 

WHITE-TAILED DEER 

in Missouri 



I ntroduction 1 

H istory 2 

B iology 3 

Antlers and antler growth 4 

Deer weights 5 

The seasons 5 

Diet 9 

M an aging land for deer 9 

Managing deer populations 10 

Population principles 10 

Specialized deer management 12 

Record keeping 12 

D eer hunting in M issouri 14 

Finding a place to hunt 14 

Scouting 14 

What gun to use 15 

Equipment 16 

The hunt 17 

Tree stand safety 18 

Archery deer hunting 19 

Field dressing 20 

Trophy preparation 22 

Recognizing record antler points 23 

Preparing and cooking venison 24 

Processing 24 

Making sausage and jerky 25 

Marinades 26 

Main dishes 27 

Appendices 32 

Hunter Observation Record 32 

Deer Harvest Record Form 33 

Dental- Age Characters of White-tailed Deer 34 



The white-tailed deer is one of Missouri's most 
valuable wildlife resources. Each year hunters 
take nearly four million trips to the field, 
pursuing the whitetail, contributing hundreds of 
millions of dollars to the economy. Public viewing of deer 
attracts thousands of visitors to our state's public lands 
annually. A survey of urban and rural Missouri citizens 
revealed that of all animals outside a zoo, people most 
prefer to see the white-tailed deer. It also is a favorite 
with children. The whitetail was selected as our state 
mammal by vote of school-age children. 

On the down side, deer cause thousands of vehicle 
accidents on our roadways annually and feed on 
agricultural and household plantings throughout the 



state. It is not surprising that Missourians have strong 
feelings toward whitetails, mostly positive, but some 
negative. As a steward of this important wildlife resource, 
the Missouri Department of Conservation is sensitive to 
these attitudes. 

The Department's goal is to maintain deer numbers 
at levels that serve the best interest of the Missouri 
public. This requires knowledge of whitetail biology. 
Equally important, however, is commitment and 
cooperation from Missouri citizens who serve both as the 
advisory board that guides our management and the tool 
with which we regulate deer numbers. The landowner is 
the key to this process because most deer management 
in Missouri takes place on private properties. 




The white-tailed deer can be different things for different Missourians. For wildlife enthusiasts, it is natural beauty and grace; for motorists, a collision threat; for 
farmers, a potential crop damager; for recreational hunters, a worthy adversary But for all Missourians, the whitetail is an important part of the natural resource 
heritage under our stewardship. 



HISTORY 



The history of white-tailed deer in Missouri shows 
positive and negative influences humans can have on 
wildlife. During presettlement times, the whitetail was 
abundant in Missouri, especially in the more fertile 
and diverse habitats of northern Missouri. The influx of 
European settlers to Missouri during the last half of the 
19th century coincided with a rapid decline in the deer 
population. Unrestricted market hunting and habitat 
destruction, such as cutting, burning, farming and 
grazing forest lands, contributed most to this decline. 

Token laws restricting the killing of deer were 
passed in the late 1800s and early 1900s, but they went 
largely unenforced. In 1925, the state s deer herd was 
estimated to be only around 400. In response to these 
findings, the Missouri State Legislature declared deer 
season closed and made the first substantial effort to 
enforce its regulation. At the same time, deer brought 
to Missouri from Michigan were released onto five 
refuges in the Ozarks. In 1931, deer season reopened 
but resulted in a small harvest, which indicated a low 
population that was stable or declining. 

Only when the first Conservation Commission 
formed in 1937 did significant efforts to restore the 
whitetail begin to succeed. The Commission closed 
deer hunting season from 1938 to 1943. During this 
closure, additional deer were stocked from Wisconsin, 
Michigan, Minnesota and from existing refuges within 
the state. Enforcement of the Wildlife Code of Missouri 
by professionally trained conservation agents helped 
deter poaching. By 1944, the statewide deer population 
soared to 15,000, and Missouri held its first deer season 
since the recovery effort had begun. 

Missouri's deer management program has come a 
long way since 1944. That year, 7,557 hunters took 583 
deer during a two-day, bucks-only season in 20 southern 
Missouri counties. In recent years, nearly 500,000 gun 
and bow hunters typically harvest around 300,000 deer 
annually during statewide seasons. Missourians can 
take pride in the widespread restoration of this major 
wildlife species. 

Successful deer management requires flexibility in 
response to changing conditions. The white-tailed deer 
is strongly affected by hunter pressure; populations 
can be underharvested or overharvested. The penalties 
for either are great. With underharvest, crop damage 
and deer-vehicle accidents may increase. Overharvest 




means several years of slow recovery, especially in 
Ozark habitat where forage quality is lower. Successful 
management is maintaining the delicate harvest 
balance. 

Many tools are necessary to accomplish this 
balancing act. In the 1950s and early 1960s, Missouri 
had short any-deer seasons. As hunting pressure 
increased, this type of management became outdated 
because harvest of does could not be controlled. Since 
then, deer management has gradually evolved from a 
quota system based on deer management units to a 
county-based system where quotas are no longer used. 
Today harvest and deer populations are managed by 
allowing various numbers of archery and firearms 
antlerless permits to be used in each county. 

The firearms deer hunting season is now composed 
of different portions that provide the varied hunting 
opportunities Missourians enjoy. The current season 



structure accommodates different hunting methods 
and styles, and also specific user groups. Consequently, 
it satisfies the great demand for deer hunting without 
harming the resource, and also provides multiple 
weekends of hunting for those who cannot hunt 
on weekdays. 



BIOLOGY 



White-tailed deer are ungulates, or hoofed mammals, 
belonging to the family Cervidae. Characteristics 
distinguishing this group from other hoofed mammals 
are forked antlers, a four -part stomach and the absence 
of a gall bladder. The whitetail is the only remaining 
native ungulate still thriving in Missouri. Ancestors 
of our modern deer actually had five toes. Through 
evolution the first toe disappeared, the second and fifth 
toes became dew claws, and the third and fourth toes 
enlarged to form hooves. As a result, deer actually walk 
on their toes or, more precisely, on their toenails. Like 
our fingernails and toenails, hooves are composed of 
keratin. As whitetails grow older, their hooves become 
wider. Experienced trackers can tell yearling deer from 
adults based on this characteristic. 

A whitetails coat and color tend to 
change throughout the year. During the 
summer months, deer are reddish-brown, 
and their coats are rather thin — less than a 
quarter-inch thick. By August or September 
they shed their summer pelage, or coat, and 
replace it with a thick, brown-gray winter coat 
sometimes more than 1-inch thick. The winter 
pelage is made up of both a short underfur 
and outside guard hairs. This dense layer of 
hair may weigh up to 3 pounds. The molt/ 
shed cycle begins again in April when deer 
start to grow their summer coats. This almost 
continual shedding and regrowth requires 
substantial amounts of protein and energy. 

Occasionally, deer have either all white, 
dark brown to black or piebald coats. White 
deer are usually albinos. This genetic trait is 
sometimes prevalent in one area, but it is not 
common anywhere. Deer that have patches of 
both white and brown hair are called piebald 
deer. These animals may have a patchwork as 
extensive as that of a pinto horse, or it maybe 



less pronounced. The rarest color variation is black or 
melanistic. It is caused by an excess of a dark pigment 
called melanin. Dark brown or black, albino and piebald 
deer are legal game in Missouri. 

Whitetails have as many as seven glands that are 
used primarily for communication. Gland secretions 
can describe a deer's social status, breeding condition 
and health. The most recognized glands are the tarsal 
and metatarsal glands, located on a deer's hind leg. 
The tarsal gland, located on the leg's inner surface, 
serves to identify individuals and their social status. 
The metatarsal gland, found lower on the leg and on the 
outside, may help in advertising that there is danger in 
an area but its function, if any, is unclear. Interdigital 
glands, located between the hooves, probably leave 
scent trails that may express dominance. Pre-orbital 
glands function as tear glands and may relay sex and 
social hierarchy when rubbed on branches. Forehead 
glands likely are the source of scent left on rubs and 
overhanging branches that serves in communication 
during the breeding season. Preputial glands located 
inside the penal sheath have recently been discovered 
and also may serve in deer communication. 



The Glands 



External glands are 
used primarily for 
communication. 
Gland secretions can 
describe a deer's 
social status, breeding 
condition and health. 



i\* 





METATARSAL GLAND %}-%.\ 



In the spring, 

whitetails seek out 

protein-rich foods, 

which promote 

growth spurts and 

weight gain. 




Antlers and antler growth 

Whitetails are probably best known and sought after 
for their antlers. Sometimes incorrectly referred to 
as horns, deer antlers are cast and regrown annually. 
Horns, on the other hand, grow continually much like 
hooves. Another difference between horns and antlers 
is that horns, like hooves, are composed of keratin, 
whereas antlers are composed of bone. The actual 
composition of antlers depends upon their stage of 
growth. Growing antlers are 80 percent protein and 20 
percent ash. Hardened antlers are roughly 63 percent 
ash, 22 percent calcium, 11 percent phosphorus and 
4 percent organic matter. Antlers are most dense on 
young deer and tend to become more porous as the 
animals grow older. 

The phrase, "the head grows according to the 
pasture," is probably more accurate when stated, "the 
body grows according to the pasture." Antler growth 
requires a substantial amount of protein, energy and 
minerals, yet body growth always takes precedence. 
This is true especially for young deer because they are 
still putting energy into body growth. 

Measuring specific nutritional and mineral effects 
on wild deer antler growth is difficult because of the 
animals' large home range and varied diet. A number 



of studies on penned deer have found relationships 
between nutrition and antler growth in young deer. 
Whitetail fawns fed a ration containing less than 9.5 
percent protein developed smaller racks, weighed less 
and cast their antlers earlier than fawns fed 16 percent 
protein rations. 

Although spring nutrition is important for body 
and antler growth, whitetails possess adaptations 
that enable them to prosper in areas with mineral 
deficiencies. For example, deer deposit minerals in 
their skeletons throughout the year. Then, during antler 
growth, they mobilize these minerals to the growing 
antlers. A second adaptation is their ability to change 
absorption rates of minerals in their stomach. When 
using large amounts of minerals for antler growth, 
deer siphon more minerals from their diet. Deer rely on 
plants for these minerals, and they select plants offering 
the highest mineral concentrations. 

Protein and minerals play an important role in 
deer growth and antler development. Yet under normal 
weather conditions in decent habitat, deer are able to 
grow to their potential without supplementation. A 
study that took place in an area with markedly poor 
soils found no significant difference between body 



weight or antler size in two populations of wild deer. 
One group had unlimited access to mineral blocks, and 
the other did not. In another study, deer with access 
to food plots were not heavier nor did they have larger 
antlers than deer without access to food plots. 

Most studies that examine the effects of genetics 
on antler growth are studies of penned deer. Whether 
these findings maybe extrapolated to wild populations 
remains in question. One theory suggests that spike 
bucks — bucks, usually yearlings, with non-branched 
antlers — are genetically inferior. Another contends that 
many of these spike bucks are late-born fawns whose 
antler development is retarded but will eventually catch 
up with other bucks. 

No doubt if we take 100 bucks and feed them the 
same rations until they reach AVi years of age, antler 
development will vary among these deer. Much of 
this variance probably is caused by genetics. Genes 
and nutrition aside, however, a 3- to 7-year-old deer 
in Missouri will have a "braggin sized" rack because 
Missouri has good deer habitat. 



D eer weights 



Deer weights tend to vary by region within a state. In 
Missouri, on average deer are heavier and sport better 
racks in the northern half of the state. Latitude may 
play a role, but the range quality likely plays a greater 
role. Superior soils and abundant agriculture 
in northern Missouri offer better nutrition. The 
largest recorded deer taken in Missouri weighed 
407 (live weight) pounds and was killed in 1979 
in Davies County. 



Average Dressed Carcass Weights (in 

FEMALE 


Pounds) 

MALE 


REGION 


FAWNS YEARLINGS ADULTS 


FAWNS 


YEARLINGS ADULTS 








Glaciated Plains 


67.6 100.7 111.7 


72.1 


123.5 154.8 


Osage Plains 


48.0 77.9 87.4 


54.0 


93.9 128.2 


Ozark Border 


51.7 84.8 92.6 


58.2 


101.0 132.7 


Ozarks 


47.0 76.9 86.5 


53.2 


86.7 125.2 



The seasons 

Spring is the time of plenty for deer. New succulent 
plants send out tender shoots. Food is abundant 
even in areas that do not normally provide deer 
with nutritious food. At this time of year, the woods 
become a huge salad bar, and deer are able to sample 
different flowers and plants as they choose. Among 
the spring favorites in Missouri are wild lettuce, grape 
vines, trumpet vine, cinquefoil, sweet clover, violets 
and spring beauty. Most plants offer peak nutrition 
during spring, and whitetails respond with growth 
spurts and weight gain. Males channel energy to their 
antlers and regain the weight lost during last year's 
breeding activities. Females transfer energy to unborn 
fawns, which now undergo rapid growth. 

Almost all Missouri does Wi years old or older 
breed and produce fawns each year. In addition, 30 
to 40 percent of fawns that are less than Vi year old 
breed and produce offspring by the time they are 
1 year old. The number of fawns that are born and 
survive annually is dependant upon a number of 
factors including the age and nutrition of the mother, 
deer density in the area and winter stress. Birthrates 
vary from region to region as these factors change. 

The pregnancy rate of whitetails in Missouri 
was measured by examining the number of fetuses 
in road-killed does. Pregnancy rates for deer 2Vq. 
years old and older were nearly equal, but rates for 
younger deer were markedly lower. Adults had more 



Note: Due to lack of good habitat, few deer were harvested from the Mississippi Lowlands Region during the dressed weight study. 




offspring per doe than yearlings, who had more than the 
youngest group. In Missouri, most adult and yearling 
does have twins each year. The folk tale that old does 
tend to be barren is a myth. Researchers documented 
fetuses in does over 15 years of age. In fact, some 
researchers suggest that older does are more successful 
mothers because they are experienced and have the best 
territories. 

Peak fawning takes place in late May and June and 
begins when pregnant does isolate themselves and 
drive other deer from their fawning areas. Adult deer 
use the same areas each year. The establishment of 
fawning territories is thought to limit social stress and 
help distribute populations evenly. Territories also may 
prevent newborn fawns from imprinting on deer other 
than their mothers. 

The first weeks of life for newborn fawns are 
precarious. Young fawns are vulnerable to a variety 
of predators, diseases, parasites and human-caused 
mortality. In Missouri, the major natural predators 
are coyotes, dogs and bobcats. To reduce exposure to 
predators, fawns spend most of their time bedded and 
hidden in heavy cover, such as hay fields, grown pastures 
and old fields. Studies using radio transmitters suggest 
fawns are active less than one-fifth of a 24-hour day. 

Both the doe and its offspring spend most of their 
time in a 10- to 20-acre area these first weeks. Does 
visit their fawns two to four times a day to nurse and 
groom them. Fawns move to a new bed site after each 
feeding and grooming session, but siblings generally 
do not bed together. During this time, does sometimes 
physically defend their offspring from predators. It is also 
during this period that people find what they believe are 
"abandoned" fawns. In most cases, its mother is close by. 
Bedded fawns should be left alone. 

Following its first month, the fawn increases nursing 
and activity periods. After four to six weeks, a doe may 
visit her fawn as often as five or six times per day. Fawns 
begin eating vegetation and ruminating at two weeks, 
although they cannot digest plant nutrients until five 
weeks. Fawns become more social, are more likely 
to be seen with their siblings or mother and increase 
their activity to levels similar to adult does. After 10 
weeks, fawns eat grasses and forbs and are functional 
ruminants. 

Young does typically establish fawning territories 
next to their mother's, but sometimes they disperse and 



establish in a new area. Missouri deer studies suggest 
does travel widely during spring then, before giving 
birth, reduce their movements dramatically. 

It is much more common for 1-year-old bucks 
to disperse. In a northern Missouri study that used 
radio transmitters, 77 percent of buck fawns roamed 
more than 8 miles. Dispersal by young bucks and 
does is especially pronounced in areas with high deer 
densities. Dispersing deer tend to have higher mortality 
rates, but they may be more likely to find vacant good 
habitat. This dispersal also might reduce the amount of 
inbreeding. 

Summer 

During summer, does and bucks are segregated, 
sedentary and spend most of their active time eating. 
Does and fawns travel and feed together throughout 
the summer. Sometimes fawns from the previous year 
travel with this year's doe/fawn groups. Does with fawns 
may spend 70 percent of their time eating to meet their 
high nutritional requirements. They often seek shrubby, 
thick cover because it offers better hiding and higher 
quality forage. 

Bucks often congregate in bachelor groups 
composed of neighboring bucks. Males typically use 
open habitats, such as mature hardwoods, fields and 
poorly stocked forests. Thus, they often are found 
in different habitats than family groups of does and 
fawns. Some deer researchers suggest males prefer 
open areas so they can keep track of their position 
in the social hierarchy and to keep from damaging 
their antlers while feeding. Others theorize that the 
males' nutritional requirements are lower per pound 
of body weight or that their large rumens allow them 
to consume more food and gather sufficient nutrition 
from poorer ranges. 

Activity levels in deer are proportional to their 
nutritional needs. Larger bucks are reported to be more 
active than smaller bucks during summer. Females are 
more active than males. Nonetheless, both sexes tend 
to have smaller home ranges during summer and use 
wooded cover during daytime periods and open areas 
at night. 

Fall andWinter 

Fall is a frenzied time of year for whitetails. Does and 
fawns continue to travel in groups, but now fawns are 



totally weaned and does feed aggressively to recover from 
the stresses associated with raising them. During fall, 
deer eat items rich in starch and carbohydrates. In oak- 
hickory forests, this means acorns and soft mast, such as 
persimmons. Deer also graze on cool season grasses and 
legumes, which are undergoing a resurgence of growth 
with cooler fall temperatures and rain. 

Yearling bucks that have not dispersed the previous 
spring may do so in fall. According to studies, this group 
represents less than 20 percent of yearling bucks in 
Missouri. Adult and yearling buck bachelor groups break 
up, and bucks begin to shed their antler velvet and rub 
trees. An increased production of testosterone, triggered 
by decreasing day length, brings on the changes in buck 
behavior and the hardening of antlers. Rutting behavior 
and activity varies with the age and experience of the 
bucks and the sex and age ratios of the local deer herd. 

Sparring matches are common prior to the break up 
of bachelor groups, especially among younger animals. 
Yearling (1 ^-year-old) and 2 1 /£-year-old bucks spar to 
size each other up without injuring themselves. Older 
bucks with previously established dominance tend not to 
participate in much pre-rut sparring. 

About the time bucks decrease their sparring 



activities, they increase antler rubbing. Most rubs are 
thought to be signposts made by bucks to advertise 
their presence. Rubs provide visual cues and scents 
that inform other deer about the rub maker. Although 
no one knows for sure, these rubs probably relay 
information about social status. The number of rubs 
a deer makes seems to vary among individuals, but 
studies of penned deer have shown that adults rub 
more often than yearlings. 

The pattern and frequency of buck sign in an area 
often reflect the age structure and sex ratios of the 
resident deer herd. Areas with mature adult bucks 
have more buck sign, and these areas show signs of 
rubbing and scraping activities earlier than areas with 
predominantly yearling bucks. 

Scrapes also are signposts made by bucks. They 
probably are used to attract or keep track of breeding 
females and to advertise the presence of the maker. 
When making a scrape, a deer paws the ground and 
urinates on the disturbed soil. Most scrapes are made 
near deer travel routes under low tree branches that 
typically are nibbled on and marked with a scent gland 
from the deer's forehead. Adult bucks make about twice 
as many scrapes as yearlings. Although not common, 




Occasionally during the breeding season, two evenly matched bucks battle for dominance. These serious confrontations are quite different from the gentle 
sparring typical of younger bucks before the breeding season. 



buck fawns and does have been observed freshening 
scrapes. 

As the rut progresses, bucks become driven to find 
estrous does — those that are ready to breed. The period 
just prior to peak breeding probably offers bow hunters 
the best hunting of the season because bucks constantly 
move and search for does in heat. Rutting bucks spend 
more time searching for and tending to does than eating 
during breeding season and sometimes lose considerable 
weight. Bucks typically visit the various doe family units 
in their home range checking for estrous does. 

Prior to breeding, does also increase activity levels, 
thus increasing the likelihood of finding a buck and 
being bred. Does allow a buck to breed only during the 
24-hour-period when they are in peak estrous. Does that 
are not bred cycle again about 28 days later and may be 
bred in subsequent cycles. In Missouri, most adult does 
are bred the second and third weeks of November. Doe 
fawns are bred about a month later because they cycle 
later than adults. 

Although a buck that is at least IVi years old will 
generally do more breeding than a yearling buck that 
is Wi years old, recent evidence suggests that even in a 
lightly hunted population, yearling bucks breed some of 
the does. The proportion of does bred by yearling bucks 
could be considerable in heavily hunted areas. Also, 
multiple paternity, where twin or triplet fawns produced 
by a doe have different fathers, is fairly common, ranging 
from 20 to 25 percent, according to studies. 

Biologists have voiced concerns that not all does are 
bred in populations with heavily exploited bucks. This 
is not the case for yearling and adult does in Missouri. 
During a Conservation Department reproductive study, 
more than 90 percent of examined does were pregnant, 
and most breeding occurred over a fairly short time 
period. 

During the whitetails courtship, bucks trail and 
chase does to test their receptivity to breeding. Does aid 
this process by urinating frequently, which allows trailing 
bucks to determine their stage of estrous by smelling and 
tasting the urine. When a buck finds a receptive doe, he 
remains close by, and the two mate several times. Using 
radio telemetry during deer studies in north Missouri, 
researchers determined that mating pairs sometimes 
spent more than 12 hours together. 

As breeding activities wind down, testosterone 
production decreases in males, and they, in turn, begin 



to shed their antlers. Some studies suggest that antler 
shedding also is tied to nutrition because deer living on 
better ranges tend to carry antlers longer than those on 
poorer ranges. Young deer typically shed antlers earlier 
than adults. The older deer, who are actively breeding, 
shed their antlers after there are no longer does coming 
into estrous. 

During the rut, bucks are struck by vehicles more 
frequently than at other times of the year and are more 
vulnerable to hunting. The rut leaves most bucks in 
poor physical condition. Besides weight losses of up to 
20 percent, bucks also may suffer from battle scars and 
exhaustion. They often enter winter in poorer condition 
than the rest of the herd. 

Winter can be a very difficult time of year for 
deer, especially in the northern states. Cold weather 
and reduced food availability force deer to change 
their habits to conserve energy and survive. Although 
Missouri winters are not severe, our whitetails 
display some of the same behaviors as their northern 
counterparts. These northern deer spend the winter 
in a sheltered area, then return to their summer range 
the following spring. A number of radio-tagged deer 
in Missouri made movements of up to 10 miles each 
winter then moved back to their summer ranges 
each spring. 

Extended family members often reunite during 
winter. Most family units winter in the same areas 
each year, but deer concentrate in new areas if food is 
abundant. Typically, bucks and does are still segregated. 
Does and their offspring from several generations often 
form large groups while males reunite with members of 
their bachelor group or travel alone. 

Deer reduce activity during the winter months. 
Studies have documented activity changes of up to 50 
percent. One study found deer were active 68 percent 
of the time in October but only 37 percent of the time 
in February. Their metabolic rate slows down as their 
activity rate declines, and they require less energy. 

During the winter months, deer readily eat foods 
that are rich in carbohydrates, such as acorns and waste 
grain. Deer also browse on young trees and shrubs — 
staple foods for deer in areas lacking agricultural crops 
and a supplement for all deer during the winter months. 
The degree to which deer browse certain shrub and 
tree species sometimes is used as an indicator of 
deer population levels and winter severity. Some 



8 



species of sumac and dogwood, for example, are 
readily consumed by deer. Red cedar and hickory are 
considered starvation foods and are only eaten when 
populations are high. 

Diet 

Because whitetails are ruminants, they eat a wide 
variety of foods. Their four-part compound stomach 
enables them to break down woody browse and 
herbage, but they cannot digest low-quality forage, 
such as grass, as efficiently as cattle. 

Deer are selective feeders and seek out preferred 
plant species. Deer have been documented eating 
more than 600 different types of plants. Deer in the 
Ozark region of Missouri live in chiefly wooded areas 
and rely on natural forage, such as grape vines, green 
briar, Virginia creeper, oak leaves, pussy toes, clovers 
and prickly lettuce. During spring and summer, deer 
eat perennial plants more than annuals. 

Studies in agricultural areas of Missouri, Iowa and 
Ohio indicate cultivated crops comprised 41 percent, 
56 percent and 48 percent respectively of deer diet by 
volume. Most researchers found wild browse, fruits 




and seeds also are major food items. Deer prefer corn, 
soybeans and hay from the variety of agricultural crops. 
Oak mast and leaves, corralberry and various forbs are 
important wild browse food for deer in agricultural 
areas. These differences in plant use and regional food 
habit studies are likely a reflection of plant availability. 
Agricultural crops may be preferred when they are 
available, but deer still rely on early successional plants 
and oak mast. Ask your local conservation agent or 
private land conservationist for details on which species 
to plant or encourage to attract deer to your land. 



MANAGING 
LAND FOR DEER 



The effect of food plots, agricultural plantings, forest 
management and management of natural vegetation 
on deer in Missouri is open to speculation. Because 
deer populations in our state are under the land's 
carrying capacity — the number of deer the habitat can 
support — generally deer are not limited by food scarcity. 
Missouri's mild winters, naturally diverse habitats and 
good mixture of crop ground and woody cover provide 
deer ideal conditions. 

However, the larger body sizes, better antler 
growth and higher reproductive rates of north Missouri 
deer, where soils are fertile and intensive agriculture 
predominates, suggest an abundant, high-quality food 
source maybe important for producing these desirable 
characteristics. In addition, studies of penned deer 
have found positive correlations between soil fertility 
(mostly calcium and phosphorus levels) and increased 
antler growth, productivity and body weights. It seems 
apparent that well-nourished deer are more likely to 
reach their biological potentials for reproduction, body 
size and antler growth. 

But will one or two quarter-acre food plots 
surrounded by 1,000 acres of the poorest woods in 
Missouri make a difference? Probably not. But 25 well- 
placed one- to two-acre plots could benefit deer under 
these conditions, especially if coupled with proper forest 
management. 

Besides the potential benefits for deer, land 
management gives deer enthusiasts a better 
understanding of deer habits. Proper management 
makes property more attractive to deer, which increases 



9 



the time they spend on that piece of land. A patch 
of lush clover or wheat is a dynamite spot to harvest 
a deer early in archery season. Later in the season, 
grain such as milo, and heavy cover such as a 6-year- 
old clearcut, attract deer because they offer both high 
energy carbohydrates and cover. During spring, grown- 
up pastures provide concealment for newborn fawns 
and an abundance of nutritious forbs. Bucks seem to 
prefer openings and open woods during summer when 
they are growing antlers and visually sorting out their 
dominance hierarchy. Certain songbirds, quail, rabbits 
and other edge species attracted to food plots also may 
benefit from deer habitat management. 

M anaging deer populations 

A question often asked by landowners is, "Can 
I effectively manage deer on my property?" The 
hunting season framework affords the opportunity 
for landowners to achieve desirable harvests on 
any property. Yet landowners' ability to control deer 
numbers on their property depends upon the land's 
size, shape and quality of habitat. Habitat quality and 
hunting pressure on surrounding properties also are 
important factors to consider. 

The amount of land owned by one person 
decides how much of a role outside factors may play. 
As described earlier, deer move over large areas. 
As a result, the ability to manage deer increases 




In Missouri, most adult does have twin fawns; triplets are less common. Although the mortality rate for 
fawns can be 40 to 50 percent, deer have a 95 percent survival rate without hunting once they reach six 
months of age. 



proportionally with the number of acres owned. For 
example, landowners with 10 acres will have less 
control over deer on their property than landowners 
with 1,000 acres. 

The amount of hunting or other activity on adjacent 
properties also is an influencing factor. Light or no 
hunting pressure on surrounding land may make it 
easier for a person to produce large bucks or increase 
deer densities. On the other hand, people trying to 
reduce deer numbers on their property may find it 
difficult if hunter access is limited on surrounding 
properties. 

The physical shape of the property may affect how 
often deer move onto adjacent land. A long linear 
shape, as opposed to a more compact shape, may have 
more individual deer on the area, but these animals 
may spend less time there. When surrounded by heavily 
hunted ground, deer that live on a linear holding would 
spend more time off the property and, therefore, would 
be exposed to greater hunting pressure. 

Quality of deer habitat and primary sources of food 
control how much time is spent on an area because 
deer shift movement patterns according to food 
distribution. In a year with a good acorn crop, deer may 
select oak-hickory forests for foraging in the fall instead 
of agricultural fields. On the other hand, deer may favor 
agricultural fields at other times of the year and also in 
years of poor acorn production. 

Population principles 

Whether a deer population 
increases, decreases or remains 
stable depends upon the balance 
between reproduction and 
mortality. Deer reproductive rates 
in Missouri are high, typical of 
those throughout much of the lower 
Midwest. Studies in several parts of 
Missouri determined deer mortality 
by monitoring free-ranging deer 
fitted with radio transmitters. These 
studies show that fawn mortality 
during the first six months of life 
may exceed 40 percent. Predation 
and farming activities are the 
primary causes of mortality in fawns 
less than 2 months of age. 



10 



Age Class vs. Hunting Pressure 



Figure 9. Population modeling 
shows the dramatic difference 
hunting pressure has on the 
number of antlered deer in an 
area. The key to management for 
larger bucks is simply to allow 
males in younger age classes to 
survive to older age classes. 

Deer population under 
high buck harvest 
pressure 



Deer population under 
low buck harvest 
pressure 




Antlered bucks 
less than 
2!/2 years old 



Antlered bucks 
between 2Vi and 
4!/2 years old 

Antlered bucks 
4V-2 years old 
and older 



Without hunting, the annual mortality of 6-month- 
old and older deer is usually less than 5 percent. An 
exception to this occurs during hemorrhagic disease 
outbreaks, which take place periodically in Missouri and 
kill up to 20 percent of the deer in some areas. Mortality 
also may be different in urban areas where collisions 
with vehicles becomes the largest cause of death. 

Hunting is the leading cause of deer mortality in 
most of rural Missouri. Each year hunters take 40 to 70 
percent of the antlered bucks and up to 25 percent of 
the does. It is apparent, therefore, that hunting is the 
primary factor governing deer abundance. 

Hunting mortality of does is the most important 
factor determining whether a population increases, 
decreases or remains stable. One male can mate with 
many females, so bucks can remain at much lower 
numbers than does without affecting reproductive rates. 
This can be shown by simulating a deer population 
under various buck and doe harvest rates. Harvests of 10 
percent and 40 percent of the antlered deer from a herd 



has little effect on the overall population growth. Similar 
harvests of does, however, affect population growth. 

If hunting mortality is eliminated, and all other 
mortality and reproductive factors remain the same, a 
deer population increases rapidly, nearly quadrupling 
in size in just 10 years. Growth at this rate, however, 
could not continue indefinitely. As the deer population 
increases, it eventually reaches and exceeds the land's 
carrying capacity — the number of animals a habitat can 
support on a sustained basis. 

The Conservation Department's statewide deer 
management program attempts to maintain deer 
populations at levels high enough to provide adequate 
opportunity for hunters and people who enjoy watching 
deer. Conversely, numbers must be low enough to 
minimize crop destruction and deer/vehicle accidents. 
Of course, people do not always agree about how many 
deer are too many or not enough. 

The Conservation Department monitors the 
attitudes of the two groups most affected by deer 



11 



abundance: farmers and hunters. Periodic mail surveys 
serve as the basis for setting deer population goals, 
along with information supplied by Conservation 
Department field staff. 

Specialized deer management 

Considerable interest in managing land for mature 
bucks has developed in recent years. Two tenets 
dominate popular and management-oriented literature: 
quality and trophy management. The concept of quality 
deer management began in the southern United States. 
Its primary objective is to manage deer populations 
and habitat to ensure a quality hunting experience. 
Although deer in older age classes is one goal, other 
factors are considered. 

Trophy management is more restrictive. Its 
primary emphasis is producing a buck with the largest 
possible rack. This requires intense management and 
strict control over harvests. It is not practical in most 
situations in Missouri. 

A common concern expressed by deer hunters is 
a lack of bucks with well-developed antlers. Often the 
hunters believe that the deer lack adequate nutrition or 
have poor genetics. The real problem, however, is that 
most of the bucks they see are Wi years of age. In some 
areas, bucks simply do not live beyond their first set of 
antlers because of heavy hunting pressure. Although 
genetic and nutritional factors can affect antler size, 
the majority of deer in Missouri that reach 3H to AVi 
years of age are trophies to most hunters. The key to 
management for larger bucks is simply to allow males 
in younger age classes to survive to older age classes. 

Historically, antlered buck harvest has not been 
regulated, other than through bag limits, because buck 
harvest has little influence on total population levels. 
Under this management scheme, few bucks survived 
to older age classes. More recently, an increasing 
number of hunters are becoming more selective in 
what buck they will harvest, allowing an increasing 
number of young bucks to survive. The Conservation 
Department also has implemented regulation changes 
in an attempt to shift harvest pressure from bucks to 
does. Increasingly liberal antlerless deer bag limits have 
increased the proportion of the harvest that is made 
up of antlerless deer and, to some extent, reduced 
pressure on bucks. Other regulations that are intended 
to improve management, such as an antler restriction, 



have reduced harvest of antlered deer and increased the 
number of bucks in older age classes. 

Managers can improve the age structure of bucks 
in their area by not shooting young bucks during the 
hunting seasons. This may seem too simplistic, but deer 
survival is high when they are not hunted. Chances are 
good that a buck will survive if not taken during the 
hunting season and, in so doing, will grow bigger antlers 
the following year. 

Hypothetical populations in which buck harvest 
is varied illustrates this the best. Sex and age ratios 
differ considerably depending upon the percentage of 
bucks harvested. When 10 percent of antlered bucks are 
harvested, 50 percent of the antlered bucks are between 
2V2 and AVi years old, and 24 percent are AV2 years old 
and older. 

In contrast, populations where bucks are highly 
exploited, only 27 percent of the antlered bucks are 
between 2V2 and AVi years old and 1 percent are AVi 
years old and older. Antlered bucks would make up 35 
percent of the total population in the low buck-exploited 
population compared with 16 percent in the high buck- 
exploited population. 

Another way to restrict harvest is to take bucks with 
a minimum number of antler points. This allows more 
bucks to survive to the 2 1 /£-year-old age class. However, 
the number of points and deer age do not always 
correlate. Hunters may take yearlings with many points 
that should be protected. In contrast, hunters may pass 
up some older, larger deer with well-developed antlers 
but too few points to qualify for harvest. 

Controversy currently exists over whether spike 
bucks should be culled. In Missouri though, most 
bucks that reach AVi years of age will be trophies to 
most hunters. Given most hunter expectations and the 
inability to control harvests and dispersals on small 
land holdings in Missouri, the best strategy is to pass up 
these young bucks during the hunting seasons. The result 
usually will be the production of a quality animal several 
years down the road. 



Record keeping 



Assessing the success of a deer management program 
is an important part of every management effort. This 
can be as simple as keeping track of the number of deer 
observed and taken during the deer hunting seasons 
each year to more scientific efforts, such as aerial census 



12 



of deer. Most hunters prefer the former, but those whose 
primary goal for the land is deer management may 
choose a more careful evaluation method. 

Simple records carefully collected over a period 
of years can tell a lot about the status of the deer 
population. Most often hunters take these records 
during the deer hunting seasons when they spend the 
most time in the woods. Diaries of hunting trips (see 
form on page 32) not only can be rewarding historical 
accounts of hunts and observations but also can 
provide useful information about the deer population. 
Population indices, such as the number of deer sighted 
by sex and age per hour, may be determined from this 
type of information. 

Deer sightings per hour are used by some state 
conservation agencies as a population measurement 
on public lands. Many biologists believe deer sighting 
indices are better able to track population changes than 
track or spotlight counts. Population indices become 
more meaningful over time and are not intended to 
produce complete counts; they show general trends in 
sex and age ratios and population changes. The key is to 



record this information consistently from year to year. 
Annual records of harvested deer, their sex, age, weight, 
antler beam circumference and date taken also may 
be useful (see form on page 33). Records may provide 
information on the herd structure and condition that 
can be used to gauge the success of a management 
effort. 

Census, or an actual count of deer, is much more 
expensive than those methods listed above and will not 
be a practical option for most deer managers. An aerial 
census with a helicopter over snow-covered ground 
currently is the most accurate way to count deer. 
Unfortunately, necessary conditions, such as adequate 
snowcover, do not consistently occur in Missouri. 

Infrared scanners, which detect body heat and 
do not require snow cover, have shown some promise 
for counting deer. Other methods include fecal pellet 
group counts, spotlight surveys and track surveys. 
These methods are of questionable accuracy if actual 
deer population estimates are required. They may be of 
more value as an index to population trends than for 
counting deer. 




A pregnant doe feeds on a lush stand of red and I ad i no clover. 



13 



DEER HUNTING 
IN MISSOURI 



All Missouri counties were opened to the hunting of 
bucks in 1959. In 2002, the buck-only tag was eliminated 
and a deer of either sex has been allowed in all counties 
since then with no limit on the number of hunters who 
can obtain these permits. 

Missouri offers a wide range of hunting conditions. 
The Ozark region in southern Missouri has large areas 
of solid timber. As much as 85 percent of some counties 
are wooded. The central counties have cultivated 
land mixed with woods in about a 50:50 ratio. The 
prairie region in northern and western Missouri is 
mainly agricultural land with woody cover confined to 
woodlots or along streams. 

Finding a place to hunt 

Most deer hunting in Missouri is done on privately 
owned land. Most landowners still permit free hunting, 
but there is a growing tendency to charge for hunting 
privileges, either by the day or the season. Often, 
farmers lease their entire holdings to a group of hunters 
for the season. Remember, always obtain permission 
before entering private land. 

The U.S. Forest Service owns about 1.5 million acres 
in the Missouri Ozarks, and this land is open to public 
hunting. Maps are available from the U.S. Forest Service, 
401 Fairgrounds Rd., Rolla, MO 65401. The Conservation 
Department manages more than 600,000 
acres that also are open to hunting. Maps 
of conservation areas are available from the 
Department of Conservation, P.O. Box 180, 
Jefferson City, MO 65102-0180, and also at 
www.missouriconservation.org/atlas. 



Scouting 



No matter where you choose to hunt, you 
should become as familiar with the area 
as you are with your own backyard. Your 
chance for success in a familiar area, even 
though it may have fewer deer, is greater than 
in an area that is strange to you. Thorough 
scouting prior to the hunting season will 
greatly increase your chances of success. 
Look for deer tracks, droppings, signs 
of browsing on plants, buck scrapes along 



the edge of forest clearings and antler rubs on small 
trees. Scouting maybe done in advance of the season, 
however, remember that deer may change their location 
and movements as the acorns begin to drop and the 
breeding season begins. 

A good map is essential to scouting any area. 
Topographic maps show the location of ridges, hollows, 
streams, and other landmarks which will help you 
become familiar with a new area. Not only will they 
help you plan your hunt, but they also may keep you 
from getting lost. Experienced hunters who are wise to 
the habits of deer can pick out likely spots for a stand 
from a topographic map. Topographic maps maybe 
purchased from the Missouri Department of Natural 
Resources, Division of Geology and Land Survey, 
ATTN: Maps and Publications, P.O. Box 250, Rolla, MO 
65402, (573) 368-2125, www.dnr.mo.gov/geology/adm/ 
publications/topoquads. 

Once you have decided on a place to hunt, stay with 
it. There must be deer in the area or you wouldn't have 
picked it in the first place. The longer you hunt in the 
same place and the more you learn about the area and 
the habits of deer, the better your chance of success. 
As an example of how the wily whitetail can avoid the 
hunter, six experienced Michigan deer hunters were 
permitted to hunt inside a mile-square fenced enclosure 
that contained 39 deer. It took 14 hours of hunting to 
kill a deer during an any-deer season and 51 hours of 
hunting to kill one buck during a bucks-only season. 




Use a topographical map to scout good hunting spots before deer season begins. 



14 



During one season, with good tracking snow, it wasn't 
until the fourth day that the hunters even saw one of 
the antlered bucks known to be present. It took 15^ 
man-days of hunting to locate and kill this buck inside a 
fenced area with snow on the ground. 

W hat gun to use 

Conservation Department regulations permit firearms 
hunters a wide choice of weapons. They may legally 
use shotguns (slugs only); muzzleloading or cap-and- 
ball firearms .40-caliber or larger; rifles or handguns 
firing centerfire ammunition; or longbows, 
recurve bows, compound bows and 
crossbows. Beginning in 2008, air-powered 
guns, .40 caliber or larger, charged only 
from an external high compression power 
source (external hand pump, air tank or air 
compressor) may be used. 

Prohibited weapons are full, hard metal- 
case projectiles, ammunition propelling 
more than one projectile at a single 
discharge and self-loading rifles having 
a capacity of more than 11 cartridges in 
magazine and chamber combined. 

The muzzleloader portion of the firearms 
season provides muzzleloading firearms 
enthusiasts with additional deer hunting. 
Any person holding a firearms permit can 
hunt during the muzzleloader portion but 
are restricted to using a muzzleloading 
firearm; no other firearms, longbow or 
crossbow may be carried while hunting deer 
during this portion of the season. 

What rifle should the beginner use? The 
choice of a deer gun is usually influenced by 
the hunter's desires, finances, advice from 
experienced hunters, and what is available. 
However, there are several other factors that 
should be considered: How good of a shot 
are you? Can you take the recoil of a large 
caliber rifle? Are you going to use the gun 
just for deer hunting? Are you going to hunt 
deer in Missouri only? 

If finances are a problem, the hunter 
should consider using a shotgun. The one- 
ounce slug from a 12-gauge shotgun can be 
very effective at short range. About 3 percent 



of Missouri's deer harvest is by shotgun. The effective 
range of a shotgun slug is only about 100 yards, but this 
range is adequate for Missouri conditions. In our rough 
terrain and brushy cover, most deer are killed at less 
than 100 yards. 

Most shotguns, however, do not have adequate 
sights for accurate aiming at even 50 yards. A shotgun is 
designed to be aimed so that the spread of the pattern 
will cover the target. The chest area of a deer presents 
about a 12-inch target; therefore, the single slug must 
be aimed with considerably better accuracy than the 




The best deer rifle is the one you can shoot best. 




Try out your gun thoroughly before deer season. 



15 



shot pattern. Rifle-type sights for shotguns are available 
from several after-market companies. In addition, many 
manufacturers offer special rifled slug barrels for their 
shotguns and most allow for mounting a scope. 

What do most people use to hunt deer during the 
firearm season? Around 87 percent of respondents to a 
2004 survey of firearms hunters used a centerfire rifle. 
Smaller percentages used a muzzleloader (4 percent), 
bow (4 percent), shotgun (3 percent) and handgun (1 
percent). What is the best centerfire rifle? There seem 
to be as many answers to this question as there are 
rifles available. A 1991 survey indicated that 68 percent 
of deer hunters used a .30 caliber rifle (.30-.30, .308, .30- 
06, etc.). Other popular deer calibers included the .270 
(11 percent) and the .243 (9 percent). 

The .30-.30 has probably killed more deer in the 
United States than any other cartridge. Since World 
War I, however, the .30-06 has become the most popular 
cartridge nationwide; ammunition is available nearly 
everywhere in a wide range of bullet weights and 
loadings. Since white-tailed deer are relatively thin- 
skinned, light-framed animals, there is little need for 
the heavier rifles — those in the .358 or .375 class or 
larger. Recoil from these guns is often so heavy that 
inexperienced shooters cannot use them with much 
success. 

The best deer rifle is the one that any given hunter 
can shoot best. There are lots of wild stories and myths 
about the power of big- game rifles, and most of these 
big guns are vastly over-rated in their supposed killing 
power. A well-placed bullet of adequate weight and 
velocity will put a deer down to stay; and a poorly 
placed bullet, no matter how large, is the first step 
toward a wounded, lost animal. No high-powered 
cartridge is a substitute for good, accurate shooting. 
In recent years, the majority of serious deer hunters 
have chosen rifles in the .243, 6mm, .270, .30-.30, .308 
and .30-06 class. These cartridges develop relatively 
light recoil, which makes them fairly easy to shoot 
accurately. 

Whatever rifle you choose, try it out thoroughly 
before deer season. Sight it in carefully, and fire enough 
rounds on the shooting range to become accustomed 
to the recoil, the muzzle blast and the handling 
characteristics. Open sights are standard equipment 
on most rifles when they come from the factory and, 
therefore, are the type used by many hunters. A peep 



or telescopic sight may be more satisfactory for the 
beginner. Most authorities agree that the peep sight 
is faster and more accurate than the open sight and it 
forces the beginner to get his or her cheek down on the 
stock of the gun when aiming. However, in the dim light 
of early morning or in heavy woods, it may be hard to 
see through the peep if the aperture is less than %-inch 
in diameter. 

Because of its light-gathering qualities, a good 
scope is a distinct advantage in dim light. For Missouri 
conditions, a 2- to 4-power scope is an excellent 
addition to a deer-hunting rifle, especially for the 
beginner or older hunter whose eyes may have trouble 
adjusting to open or peep sights. 



Equipment 



The choice of other equipment can be as important as 
the choice of rifle. Proper equipment will make your 
hunt more enjoyable and directly assist you in bagging 
your deer. Advance preparation will certainly make the 
chore of field dressing and handling a deer much easier. 
The first consideration should be proper clothing. 
Clothing should be comfortable but not too warm. It is 
best to dress in layers so that you can be warm in the 
pre-dawn chill, but be able to remove sweaters or wool 
shirts in the heat of the midday sun. 

Regulations require that during the firearms 
deer season all hunters must wear a hat and shirt, 
vest or coat of hunter orange (also known as daylight 
fluorescent orange or blaze orange) so that the color 
is plainly visible from all sides while being worn. 
Camouflage orange does not satisfy this requirement. 
Do not carry a white handkerchief; a careless hunter 
might mistake it for the tail of a deer when you pull it 
out of your pocket. 

Good boots are necessary for walking over rough 
country. For sitting still in cold weather, a pair of 
insulated rubber boots or felt pacs is recommended. 

A deer can be field dressed with a sharp pocket 
knife, but the job is easier with a sharp, stout knife 
having a straight, relatively thin, 4- to 6-inch blade 
with a dropped point. A saw or light hand ax and 
sledgehammer also are handy for splitting the pelvic 
girdle and chest cavity. 

Comfortable clothing, a loaded rifle and a sharp 
knife, along with the appropriate deer hunting permit, 
are the only really essential items for a successful deer 



16 



hunt. That's all the equipment many Missouri 
hunters carry because they do not plan to go very 
far from their vehicle. Some additional items you 
might want to carry include: 

■ raincoat or poncho for rainy weather or as a 
windbreak on a stand 

■ flashlight for finding your stand in 
pre-dawn darkness 

■ topographic map of the area, compass or 
global positioning systems for locating 
stands and navigating in the woods 

■ 15-foot length of stout rope for dragging a 
deer, hoisting your unloaded rifle into a tree 
stand or for emergencies 

■ latex or rubber gloves to protect your hands 
while field dressing a deer 

■ strong plastic bag for a sanitary, bloodproof 
container for the heart and liver of your deer 

■ piece of cheesecloth or muslin to cover 
the body cavity of a field-dressed deer and 
protect it from insects in warm weather 

■ binoculars, which are especially 
important if you are hunting areas with 
special regulations such as an antler-point 
restriction 

These items can be stuffed into your pockets, but 
a small backpack or beltpack can also be used. 
The bag also is a good place to carry your lunch 
and extra clothing, and it leaves both hands free 
for handling the rifle. 

The hunt 

A new hunter can secure the advice and assistance 
of a landowner or experienced deer hunter who 
will know which areas deer are using at the time, 
the location of the best crossings and the probable 
movement pattern of deer through the area. 

Most hunters in Missouri hunt from a stand, 
at least during early morning and late afternoon. 
A good stand is located where deer will pass in 
going about their daily routine of feeding, watering 
and resting. And during late October through 
November, deer show increased activity associated 
with the breeding season. 

Deer are creatures of habit and follow nearly 
the same routes in going from feeding areas to 
water to resting areas. In areas with many deer, 




The vital area of this deer is within the diamond. 



17 




This buck, third largest typical white-tailed deer known to exist, was taken 
in Randolph County in 1971 by Larry Gibson. It scored 205 0/8 on the 
Boone and Crockett scale. 



their daily movements make clearly defined paths. The 
point where two paths cross is an excellent place for a 
stand because it doubles the hunter's chances. Always 
place your stand so the wind will blow your scent away 
from the path or crossing. Sitting with your back against 
a tree or rock will help to break up your silhouette, 
but remaining motionless is more important than 
concealment. 

Another good location for a stand is the edge of a 
field or forest clearing where deer come to feed in the 
early evening or early morning. A permanent or portable 
tree stand or the increasingly popular metal ladder 
stand overlooking a clearing usually provides good deer 
hunting. A hunter in a tree stand can see better over a 
larger area, and is less likely to be detected by the deer. 
For safety's sake, never climb into a tree stand with a 
loaded gun and always wear a safety harness. 

The secret of hunting from any stand is to sit still, 
stay alert and stay on the stand. This type of hunting 
requires a lot of patience. Patience is hard to maintain 
on a cold November morning. Few hunters actually 
stay on the stand for more than three or four hours. 
Observations from airplanes indicate that by 9 a.m. 



Tree stand safety 



Each year deer hunters are injured in tree stand-related accidents. Injuries range from minor scrapes and 
bruises to broken bones to permanent paralysis to death. One thing these accidents have in common is 
that most are preventable. Avoid injury by following these safety tips: 

■ Practice with your stand at ground level until you are skilled at using it. 

■ Choose the stand location carefully — avoid trees with hollow trunks or rotten branches that could fall. 

■ Inspect your stand each time you climb into it — look for loose bolts or nuts, slick surfaces, cracked or 
bent metal, and worn chains, cables or straps — check permanent stands for loose steps, rotten wood 
and exposed nails or screws. 

■ Always wear a safety harness while climbing up to and down from a stand, and also while on the stand. 

■ Never carry a bow, arrows or a rifle while climbing — use a rope to haul these items into the stand after 
you are securely positioned. 

■ Don't leave equipment on the ground directly below you while climbing — falling on it could worsen 
your injuries. 

■ While on the stand, keep yourself on a short leash — 8 to 12 inches is plenty. 

■ Climb down from your stand before you grow sleepy or the weather turns bad and climb down 
immediately if you feel ill. 

■ Prepare for an emergency. Tell others where you will be and when you will return. Carry a whistle, 
strobe light, airhorn, walkie-talkie or other means of signaling for help. Remember: Cell phones don't 
always work in the woods. 



18 



most of the hunters are beginning to move through the 
woods and are resorting to still-hunting. Another name 
for still-hunting is stalking. As the name implies, the 
hunter moves as slowly and quietly as possible through 
the woods, hoping to see a deer before it sees him or her. 
This technique works best with snow on the ground or 
when the leaves are wet from rain. It is very difficult to 
move quietly through several inches of dry oak leaves. 
This method often results in the hunter seeing a lot of 
white flags disappearing over the ridge top, but not 
much venison. Some wise guy on a stand will probably 
kill the deer that is sneaking along ahead of you. 

An organized deer drive is a technique sometimes 
used in large tracts of timber in the Ozarks or on smaller 
tracts in northern Missouri. This method requires 
coordination and cooperation to ensure safety. One or 
more hunters, designated as "shooters," are placed on 
stands where deer are likely to cross when pushed by 
the "drivers." Drivers are other hunters in the party that 
move through a part of the hunting area in an attempt 
to push deer toward the shooters. It is critical that all 
shooters know the locations of other shooters and 
also the direction from which the drivers will come. 
This allows the shooters to determine safe lines-of-fire. 
Shooters must not leave their stands until the drive is 
over, and the drivers must 
stay in line and not stray 
from their predetermined 
approach. Knowing 
the location of others 
participating in the drive is 
the key to a successful and, 
more importantly, safe hunt. 

No matter which system 
of hunting you use, be quiet 
but alert and be sure of your 
target before shooting. 

Your target on a deer 
should be the chest. Shots 
in the head or spine will 
drop a deer in its tracks, but 
the target is small and the 
average hunter is wiser to 
shoot at the chest. A shot in 
the chest may not drop the 
animal immediately, but is 
usually fatal. 



"Hold low" is an old slogan among deer hunters. 
There are several good reasons for this idea. The heart 
of a deer is located in the lower third of the chest about 
4 inches behind the elbow of the front leg. If the hunter 
is excited and does not get his or her cheek down on the 
rifle stock, the bullet will hit higher than the point of 
aim. Also, most hunters do not realize that the average 
deer is only about 3 feet tall at the shoulder. 

The point of aim for a deer standing broadside 
should be slightly behind and above the elbow of the 
front leg. Aiming at this point gives an allowance for 
error of several inches in all directions. Aim at the base 
of the neck on a deer facing you. Extreme uphill and 
downhill shots should be aimed a little low. If the deer's 
racing directly from you, let him go. You'll probably 
shoot at his flag and miss him anyway. A running deer is 
a difficult target and not suggested for beginners. 

Archery deer hunting 

Archery deer hunting is one of the fastest-growing 
sports in Missouri. Only 73 archers participated in the 
first archery season in 1946, a three-day, bucks-only 
season in Crawford County. Currently, over 135,000 
archers participate in a 112-day, statewide any-deer 
season and typically harvest more than 40,000 deer. 




19 



Many archers previously hunted with a gun 
but took up the bow because they wanted more of 
a challenge. In addition, the three-month archery 
season provides a longer time to enjoy the hunt. Also, 
the two deer taken on an Archer's Hunting Permit are 
in addition to deer taken on firearms deer permits. 
Whatever their reasons for pursuing deer with bow 
and arrow, these hunters are knowingly handicapping 
themselves. Because of this handicap they must learn 
more about deer; in the process they will become 
better deer hunters. Archers must be able to get close 
to their targets, since accuracy with a bow declines 
rapidly beyond 30 yards. Most deer killed with arrows 
are shot at 20 yards or less. 

How does an archer get so close to a deer? The 
advice from one archer of long experience and some 
success is: "Go often, go to the same place each 
time and use a tree blind." Most archers hunt from 
tree stands about 15 feet high. The general rules for 
location of the stand and hunting techniques are 
similar to those suggested for the gun hunter, but 
some additional techniques are needed. The archer 
must be especially aware of wind direction. Some 
archers tie a 6-inch length of thread to the upper limb 
of their bow, to serve as a miniature windsock. 

Archers sometimes build a blind of natural 
vegetation. The blind should blend with the 
surroundings, but it does not need to be as solid as a 
duck blind. It should be roomy enough for the archer 
to draw a bow without hindrance and should be about 
shoulder-high when the archer is sitting on a small 
stool or other seat. Many commercially produced 
blinds are now available that cater to archers. 

In contrast to the bright clothing worn by the 
hunter with a gun, most archers wear camouflaged 
clothing of various patterns that will blend with the 
surroundings. Some archers use camouflage paint 
or face masks to hide their face and hands. However, 
during certain portions of the firearms season, archers 
are required to wear hunter orange. 

The experts also suggest that archers pace off the 
distance to the point where they expect to shoot at a 
deer, check the anticipated flight path of the arrow and 
trim away branches or small twigs that might deflect 
an arrow. 

Archery equipment has changed over the years. 
Hunting bows are of three types: straight (longbow), 



recurve and compound. They are made from a variety of 
materials including metals, woods and fiberglass. Bows 
are classed according to the amount of pull (in pounds) 
that is required to draw the string to 28 inches. The 
compound bow, which was first developed in Missouri, 
uses a system of pulleys to relax draw weight at full 
draw by as much as 85 percent. Arrows shot from a 
compound have a flatter trajectory and are faster than 
those shot from a comparable recurve bow. 

Beginning archers tend to select a bow that is 
too strong for them. The best way to pick a bow is to 
visit an archery club or pro shop and get the advice of 
experienced archers. Examine the many different kinds 
of bows and choose the type best suited for you. 
Hunting arrows are made of wood, fiberglass, carbon 
fiber or aluminum and are tipped with razor-sharp 
cutting heads called broadheads. The arrow kills by 
causing hemorrhage, so the blades should be kept as 
sharp as possible. Practice arrows and hunting arrows 
should be of the same weight and both should be 
matched to the strength of the bow. Other devices that 
can improve accuracy include string releases, peep 
sights and carbon arrows. Based on a 2004 survey of 
archers, today's typical archer shoots a compound bow 
(89 percent) with a draw weight of 55-65 pounds and 
uses a string release (81 percent), carbon arrows (58 
percent) and a peep sight (76 percent). 

A back quiver or leg quiver is fine for target 
shooting, but most hunters prefer the bow quiver which 
holds extra arrows on the bow ready for fast reloading. 

Target practice is even more important to the 
archer than to the hunter with a gun. This practice is 
much easier to come by, however, because you can 
shoot at a sturdy backstop in your yard. Practice until 
you can put that first arrow into a 6-inch circle at 30 
yards, then try shooting at targets downhill and uphill. 
The field range at an organized club is a good place to 
learn to hit targets at different distances and different 
elevations. 



Field dressing 



A deer down is not necessarily a deer dead, so reload 
and watch the deer from a short distance. If you do 
not detect movement for a few minutes, approach 
cautiously from behind the deer's head. Set your firearm 
or bow aside only after you are certain the deer is dead. 
If the eye does not blink when touched with a stick, it's 



20 




Field dressing steps 




O Insert your knife point under the hide only and make one 
long, straight incision up the belly. The natural tautness of 
the hide will cause the skin and hair to pull away, giving you 
unobstructed access to the abominal muscle tissues. 



© Using short, shallow, slicing strokes, open the body cavity 
by cutting the skin, fat and abdominal muscle tissue. As the 
tissue separates, use your fingers to enlarge the abdominal 
opening until you can fit your hands into the body cavity. 






© If you wish to have your deer head 
mounted, stop the incision at the bottom 
of the rib cage. Otherwise, continue the 
opening all the way to the fleshy, hollow 
junction of the neck and chest. 



O Using a saw, large knife or small axe 
and sledgehammer, open the chest cavity 
by separating the rib cage. This will allow 
easier removal of the heart and lungs. 



© Severing the windpipe 
will make it easier to remove 
the stomach and lungs. 





© Carefully sever the connective tissue 
holding the interior organs to the 
diaphragm, and pull the entire mass of 
organs back toward the pelvic opening. 



© Using a saw, large knife or small axe and sledgehammer, open 
the pelvis to ease removing the organs. Lay the bulk of the organs 
outside the carcass. Guide the lower intestine through the pelvic 
opening, the sever the anus and sphincter muscle from the carcass. 



© Prop body cavity open with sticks and cool quickly by hanging with head up in a shady, airy place. Let it hang this way for 
about an hour before moving it to camp or car. 



21 



stomach 
liver / intestines 




yours. Now is the time to fix your deer transportation 
tag securely around the hind leg. 

Field dress the deer immediately to ensure a rapid 
loss of body heat. Hang the animal head-up or lay it on a 
slope with the rump lower than shoulders. 

Strong juices from the paunch will taint the meat 
and should be removed if the animal was gut shot or if 
you accidentally cut the paunch while field dressing the 
deer. A rag or bunches of leaves may be used to wipe out 
the juices or they may be washed out with water. Some 
articles state the carcass should not be washed with 
water, because of the potential to promote bacterial 
growth. However, thorough cleaning when the paunch 
has been punctured makes washing and then patting 
the cavity dry an appropriate procedure. 

A piece of cloth wrapped around the carcass will 
keep out flies and dirt as you drag it out of the woods or 
transport it. 

The carcass should be dragged or carted out of the 
woods and not carried on your shoulders. A deer on 
the shoulders could invite a shot by another hunter. 
The antlers of a buck make a good handle for dragging. 
Some hunters tie the front feet behind the head of 
the carcass to keep them from catching on brush. A 
strong stick between the hind hocks will provide a good 
handle for dragging does or fawns. There also are many 
commercially produced deer carts, which are used by 
an increasing number of hunters. 

The deer should be kept as clean and as cool as 
possible during transport. A plastic bag full of ice 



placed inside the carcass will keep it cool if you have 
a long trip home. 

Trophy preparation 

Deer hunting is indeed an exciting sport and trophies 
are popular reminders of successful days afield. Head 
mounts, racks and hides are the most common deer 
hunting trophies. However, deer legs are often used as 
gun racks, lamp bases and bookends. Hides also can 
be used to make items of clothing, wallets and purses. 
Whether you decide to make your own trophy or leave 
the job to a professional, the way you handle your deer 
from the moment it is downed will affect the quality of 
the product. 

For instance, if you plan to mount your deer head, 
do not cut the animal's throat. In fact, make no cuts in 
the head and neck region other than those indicated 
in the following diagram. This method of skinning will 
allow plenty of hide for a full head-neck- and-shoulder 
mount. After skinning, sever the head from the neck 
and take head, antlers and hide to your taxidermist. 
If you anticipate any trouble, you might let your 
taxidermist tackle the caping chore. 

Another method of displaying antlers that is 
inexpensive, yet attractive, is to attach them directly to 
a backboard or wall. Simply saw off a good, solid section 
of skull with the antlers and fasten through a hole 
drilled in the middle. Deer hide or felt can be used to 
cover the skull-plate, if desired. 

If you plan to have the hide processed, remove all 
the flesh and fat from the skin with a dull knife while 




22 




This world-record non-typical white-tailed buck was found dead, 
apparently of natural causes. It weighed 250 pounds and scored 333 7/8 
on the Boone and Crockett scale. 




David Reid took this non-typical buck in October 1991 in Adair County, using 
a compound bow. It qualified for the Show-Me Big Bucks Club with a score of 
188 6/8 on the Boone and Crockett scale. 



the skin is fresh. If you cannot work on the skin when 
it is fresh, freeze it until you are ready and then allow it 
to thaw. Then rub salt onto the flesh side and roll it up, 
flesh side in and send it off to the processor. 

A list of licensed taxidermists is available on 
request from the Conservation Department. There also 
are a number of reputable companies that will process 
your deer hides if you do not want to do it yourself. 

Recognizing record antler points 

The Missouri Show-Me Big Bucks Club is a statewide 
organization affiliated with the Boone and Crockett 
Club. The purposes of the club are: to officially 
recognize Missouri trophy deer heads and to honor 
the successful hunter; to promote interest in and 
appreciation for Missouri deer hunting; to promote 
sportsmanship among deer hunters; to establish and 
maintain a permanent record of trophy deer heads 
taken in Missouri; and to assist eligible members 
to receive national recognition from the Boone and 
Crockett Club. 

Membership in the club is available to any hunter 
who has, during any legal hunting season, taken a 
trophy that meets the standards of the club. Scoring 
is based on the system of measurements developed by 
the Boone and Crockett Club. Official club scorers are 
located throughout the state. Membership in the Show- 
Me Big Bucks Club will be based on scores submitted by 
the official club scorers, verified if necessary by officials 
of the club. Minimum scores for membership are 140 
points for typical and 155 points for non-typical deer 
taken statewide. Other organizations also keep records 
of antler points, such as Archery Big Bucks of Missouri 
and Pope and Young Club. 

Many beautiful racks of antlers are taken in 
Missouri each fall. Larry Gibson (see page 19) took our 
best typical trophy head in 1971 in Randolph County. 
The antlers scored 205 points on the Boone and 
Crockett system and ranked third in the latest edition 
of the club's records of North American Big Game. The 
world-record non-typical whitetail was found in St. 
Louis County in 1981 (see above left). It scored 333 7/8. 

Do you have a record set of antlers? A score of more 
than 140 is exceptional and should be entered in the 
record book. Go to www.boone-crockett.org and score 
your deer's rack according to the instructions on the 
official score sheet. 



23 



PREPARING AND 
COOKING VENISON 



^zr^i 



Processing 

For better venison, hang the deer before processing. 
Leave the skin on to prevent dehydration and keep the 
meat clean. A handy way to hang the carcass (and also 
remove scent glands) is illustrated below. Hang the 
deer to drain blood and cool to 50° F. within six hours 
of harvest. Freezing 



Before processing, you 
must check your deer 
using the Tel echeck 
system, write the 
confirmation number 
on your permit and 
attach it to your deer. 



the venison more 
quickly will result in 
tougher meat. 

Aging venison 
any longer is not 
necessary; but 
when stored at 
34-40° F. for up to 
eight days, the taste 
and tenderness of venison cuts can be improved. 

The following tools are needed for home 
processing: hand saw, cutting board or solid 
table, a flexible knife for boning, a stout knife 
for trimming fat and making larger cuts, a knife 
sharpener, freezer paper, plastic wrap, masking 
or freezer tape, and a marker. To help sort meats 
for stewing and grinding, large plastic or metal 
tubs or bowls are handy. 

There are many ways to process a deer and 
those experienced at processing often have 



Venison is a healthy and delicious meat choice, but 

the road to a tasty meal requires care in the processing ( W^\V 

and preparation. If you've had gamy tasting venison 

before, chances are the offensive taste was obtained 

through processing or cooking. The meat's quality 

is a result of the deer's age, sex and diet. Older deer 

have tougher meat, while the meat of bucks in rut is 

stronger tasting from the stress of breeding season. 

For nutritional value, venison is low in fat and 
calories and rich in protein. Use low-fat cooking 
techniques, such as broiling, grilling, baking or 
stewing instead of frying to keep the venison healthy. 

All in all, just keep in mind the deer you are 
cooking and match it with the right cooking 
technique — roasting and stewing for tougher cuts and 
frying, broiling and grilling for more tender cuts. 




CUT OFF HERE 



Use a sturdy stick to hang the 
deer to drain the blood. 



their own special way of doing it. What we present are 
some general guidelines for the beginner. Remove the 
skin and take care to keep the hair side away from the 
carcass. Be sure to remove as much fat as possible (deer 
fat has a strong flavor). Trim any bruises or gunshot 
damage and wash the outside. After dripping dry, the 
carcass is ready to be cut. 

There are two basic methods for cutting the carcass. 
The boneless method produces a milder flavor; all bone 
is removed and the more tender muscles are used for 
steaks, roasts, and stew; the less tender muscles are 
ground. One point to remember is that young-of-the- 
year deer are so tender that the whole animal can be 
cut into steaks. You can also use the method similar to 
one used to cut up a beef carcass. This method results 
in popular cuts such as rib, T-bone, sirloin and round 
steaks. Combinations of the two methods maybe used. 

Regardless of method, use the chart on page 25 to 
produce wholesale cuts similar to those at a grocer. 
Start by removing the neck for boning and split the 
carcass by cutting down the center of the backbone. 
Then either bone or cut with the bone-in cutting 



Nutrient content of domestic and wild game meats 

(cooked, 3-ounce serving, unless otherwise indicated) 

Total Saturated 
Domestic Calories Protein Iron Fat Fat Cholesterol 


Beef 
Pork 
Chicken 
(roasted, skin off) 

Wild Meats 


184 
180 
161 


25 3 8 3 73 
25 1 8 3 73 
25 1 8 2 76 


Deer 
Turkey 


134 
121 


26 4 3 1 95 
26—1 55 



24 




fat, pork fat works well for ground, processed meats 
because it adds flavor and moisture to the meat and 
keeps well. The amount of fat you add to your sausage 
can vary with your personal taste and diet needs. 

For more tender jerky, ground venison may 
be substituted for the venison strips when using a 
dehydrator. To make thin strips, use a jerky gun or roll 
out meat between two pieces of waxed paper by using 
a rolling pin. Form into strips by shaping with a pizza 
cutter. Place strips on drying racks. 

G round M eat M ix for Basic D eer Sausage 

5 pounds venison 

1 pound fresh pork fat 

2-4 tablespoons salt 



method as used in beef cutting. Sawing through 
bone spreads the bone marrow across cuts of meat, 
sometimes creating a bad flavor. If you saw through 
cuts, be sure to scrape away any marrow or bone 
fragments. Also, carefully remove all animal hair. 

Wholesale cuts 

Place the half carcass on a cutting table and remove 
the flank, breast and shank. Remove the shoulder by 
cutting between ribs five and six perpendicular to the 
backbone. Separate the rib from the loin behind the 
last rib and cut the loin from the sirloin in the middle 
of the last lumbar vertebra. The wholesale cuts of deer 
are neck, shoulder, rib or rack, loin, hind leg, foreshank, 
breast and flank. 

Labeling 

Label each package clearly with a permanent marker. 
Make the letters large enough for easy reading. 
Labels should include the owner s name, address and 
Telecheck confirmation number; the name of the cut; 
the quantity; and the packaging date. 

Freezer storage time 

Venison can be stored in the home freezer at 6° F. or 
lower for about one year. 

M aking sausage and jerky 

Venison can make excellent sausages and jerky. 
Avoid using deer fat in the sausage; it makes the flavor 
stronger and does not store well. If you choose to add 



Grind the meat and fat thoroughly, mix in salt and 
add one of the seasoning recipes. Knead one of the 
seasoning mixes listed below into meat. Keep 
mixture cold. 

Salami Seasoning 

2 tablespoons sugar 

1 tablespoon cayenne pepper 

1 teaspoon ground cloves 

1 tablespoon fine-ground pepper 

2 teaspoons garlic powder 

% cup dry milk (mix to a thin paste) 

Sausage Seasoning 

2 tablespoons sugar 

1 teaspoon cayenne pepper 

Wi tablespoons chili powder 

1 tablespoon garlic powder 

Wi teaspoons ground celery seed 
% cup dry milk (mix to a thin paste) 

Pe pperoni Seasoning 

2 tablespoons sugar 
1 teaspoon ground cumin 
Wi teaspoons leaf oregano 
1 teaspoon thyme 
1 tablespoon cracked pepper 
1 tablespoon fine-ground pepper 

3 tablespoons chili powder 
1 teaspoon whole anise 
% cup dry milk (mix to a thin paste) 




25 



To stuff and cook the sausage, you can use casings 
available from a local meat processor or aluminum 
foil wrapping. 

If using casings, follow instructions for the type 
(run water through animal casings). To fill, use 
stuffing attachments for your meat grinder and 
pack tightly into casings. 

For foil wrapping, place 1-2 pounds of mixture 
on a rectangle of foil and pull up opposite sides. 
Press to pack meat tightly, then fold the foil tightly 
against the meat. Turn and roll ends until tight. 

Bake sausage in the oven by placing the stuffed 
casings or foil on a rack in a baking pan. Bake for 

1 hour and 20 minutes at 300° F. Remove and cool 
rapidly. 

Summer Sausage 

2 pounds ground venison 
1 cup water 

3 tablespoons quick cure salt 
X A teaspoon pepper 

Vs teaspoon garlic powder 
X A teaspoon onion salt 
Vi teaspoon mustard seed 
1 tablespoon liquid smoke 

Mix all ingredients well. Shape on aluminum foil in 
two rolls. Twist ends of rolls to secure. Refrigerate 
for 24 hours. Place in kettle and cover with water 
and boil 1 hour. Remove and punch holes in foil to 
drain water. 



Buck's] erky 

2 pounds venison strips, cut M-Vs" thick 

X A cup soy sauce 

X A teaspoon black pepper 

Vi teaspoon onion powder 

Vi teaspoon salt 

A few drops of liquid smoke 

1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce 

X A teaspoon garlic 

1 teaspoon hickory smoke salt 

Dash of cayenne pepper ~*rr 




Hot Jerky 

1 pound venison strips, cut Va-Vs" thick 
4 teaspoons salt 

1 teaspoon each of pepper, chili powder, 

garlic powder and onion powder 
X A teaspoon cayenne 
3 dashes liquid smoke 
Vi cup water 

To cut thin, even slices, use meat that is partially 
frozen. Cut the strips lengthwise with the grain 
and about 1 to 2 inches wide. Mix one of the above 
seasonings and place the meat and seasonings in 
a resealable plastic bag. Work the seasonings into 
the meat with your hands. Refrigerate for several 
hours or overnight. 

To dry, place on dehydrator trays and follow 
the directions of the appliance. Jerky can also 
be dried in an oven by hanging the strips with 
toothpicks from the racks. Cook for 10-12 hours at 
150° F. with the door slightly ajar to allow moisture 
to escape. Place a tray under jerky to catch drips. 

Marinades 

Marinating venison enhances the flavor, 
moisturizes and helps tenderize the meat. Here 
are a few basic marinades for use with grilling 
(steaks or kabobs), stir frying, broiling and baking. 
Commercial marinades are also available at your 
supermarket. If steaks or other cuts of venison may 
be tough, tenderize with a mallet before placing in 
marinade. 

Red Wine Marinade 

Vi cup dry red wine 
V3 cup chopped onion 

2 tablespoons olive oil 

Vi teaspoon thyme, rosemary or marjoram 

X A teaspoon salt 

X A teaspoon coarse pepper 

1 clove garlic, minced 

Mix together. Pour over meat in plastic bag and 
knead mixture together. Marinate at room 
temperature for 30 minutes or in the refrigerator 
for up to 6 hours. 



26 




Teriyaki Marinade 

X A cup soy sauce 

2 tablespoons orange juice 

1 tablespoon molasses 

Wi teaspoons grated ginger root 

(or Vi teaspoon ground ginger) 
1 teaspoon dry mustard 
1 clove garlic 

Mix together. Pour over meat in plastic bag and 
knead mixture together. Marinate in refrigerator 
for 10 hours or overnight. Vegetables can be 
marinated in mixture for kabobs or stir-fry, if 
desired. 

H erb-L emon M arinade 

V& cup lemon juice 

X A cup olive oil 

X A cup Worcestershire sauce 

1 tablespoon honey 

Vi teaspoon basil, crushed 

Vi teaspoon thyme, crushed 

Vs teaspoon garlic salt 

X A teaspoon pepper 

Mix together. Pour over meat in plastic bag and 
knead mixture together. Marinate in refrigerator 
for 6-10 hours. Marinade is good with vegetables 
for grilling or stir-fry. 

Fajita Marinade 

Vi cup salsa 

Vi teaspoon pepper 

1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce 

Vi cup red wine 

1 garlic clove, crushed 

1 tablespoon lime juice 

Works best with thinly sliced venison. Mix 
together. Pour over meat in plastic bag and knead 
together. Refrigerate 1-6 hours. Use as a stir-fry 
for fajitas or your favorite southwestern recipe. 



Main dishes 

Take care in cooking cuts of venison. Always trim 
off all fat and as many of the tendons as possible 
before cooking. Most cuts can be prepared similar 
to beef. Tender cuts, such as the loin, rib and sirloin, 
can be broiled or roasted. Shoulder and hind cuts, 
such as round steak and arm and blade chops, are 
best cooked by stewing, braising or pot-roasting. Use 
tougher cuts in stews and ground venison. Try to 
keep meat moist and do not overcook. 

Many traditional recipes for preparing venison 
are found in CyLittlebees Guide to Cooking Fish and 
Game, available from the Missouri Department 
of Conservation. Here are a few popular recipes 
adapted for venison. 

Venison-Bacon Appetizer 

1 bottle Italian salad dressing 

1 pound venison steak, tenderized 

10 ounces bacon 

Jalapeno peppers or water chestnuts 

Cut venison in thin strips 1 inch by 3 inches. 
Marinate in salad dressing for 6-12 hours. Remove 
venison strips from marinade and roll around a 
chestnut or pepper, then with a bacon slice cut in 
half on outside. Secure with a toothpick. Grill or broil 
10-12 minutes or until done. 

Quesadillas 

1 pound ground venison 

1 cup or more salsa 
8 large flour tortillas 

Vi cup chopped green pepper 
4 chopped green onions 

2 cups shredded Monterey Jack cheese 
Refried beans, optional 

Jalapeno peppers, optional 

Cook ground venison adding Vi cup salsa and salt 
and pepper to taste. Remove from skillet. Spread 
refried beans on half of each tortilla, if desired. Top 
with peppers, onions and seasoned venison. Sprinkle 
cheese over half of each tortilla and fold in half, 
pressing gently. Cook quesadillas in a large skillet 
over medium heat until lightly browned, turning 
once. Cut into wedges and serve with salsa. Serves 4. 



27 



Venison Pot Pie 

1 pound venison, cut into H-inch cubes 

2 tablespoons cooking oil 
2 cups beef broth 

1 teaspoon thyme, crushed 
X A teaspoon pepper 

1 10-ounce package frozen peas and carrots 

2 medium potatoes, peeled and cubed 
Vi cup beef broth 

V3 cup flour 

% cup flour 

% teaspoon baking powder 

Vi teaspoon sugar 

3 tablespoons butter 
V3 cup milk 

Remove all fat from meat. Brown meat in hot oil in a 
large saucepan. Stir in the 2 cups broth, thyme and 
pepper. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat, cover and 
simmer for 45 minutes. Add vegetables and simmer 
until meat is tender (15-30 minutes). Mix the Vi cup 
broth and V$ cup flour. Add to meat mixture and cook 
until thickened. Pour into a 2-quart casserole dish. 
Prepare the biscuit topping by stirring together the 
% cup flour, baking powder, sugar and a dash of salt. 
Cut in the butter. Make a well in the center and add 
the milk. Stir until just mixed, then spoon in 6 mounds 
atop the meat and gravy. Bake at 450° F. for 12 minutes. 
Makes 5 servings. 

Venison Pizza 

1 package yeast 

4 cups flour 

2 teaspoons salt 

V4 cup olive oil (optional) 
Wi cups warm water 

Mix yeast, flour and salt. Add warm water and oil and 
mix. Knead on a floured surface until dough is soft. 
Place in greased bowl to rise for about 1 hour. While 
dough is rising, prepare the following: 

1-2 pounds ground venison 
Vi cup chopped onion 
Vi cup chopped green peppers 
Salt and pepper 



Brown venison with peppers and onions in a skillet. 
Remove from skillet and set aside. 

2 cups sliced mushrooms 

1 clove garlic, sliced 

1 cup green peppers, sliced in strips 

Saute peppers and garlic in olive oil. Add mushrooms 
and finish cooking. Drain and set aside. Prepare the 
following: 

Pizza sauce or tomato paste 

Diced pepperoni or Canadian bacon 

Grated mozzarella cheese 

Roll out half of dough to fit pizza stone or pan. Spread 
on a thin layer of sauce, then cover with half of venison, 
pepperoni or bacon, mushrooms and peppers, and then 
cheese. Repeat for the other pizza. Bake at 450° F. for 
15-20 minutes. Makes 5 servings. 

Venison Chili 

Good for strong or tough venison 

1-2 pounds ground venison (or cuts in 1-inch cubes) 

1 cup chopped onion 

Vi cup chopped green pepper 

2 cloves garlic, minced 

1 14 H-ounce can tomatoes, chopped 

1 15-ounce can dark red kidney beans, rinsed and 

drained 

1 8-ounce can tomato sauce 

2 to 3 teaspoons chili powder 
Vi teaspoon basil 

Vi teaspoon salt 
X A teaspoon pepper 

Place venison, onion, pepper and garlic in a large 
saucepan and brown in about 2 tablespoons oil. Add 
the remainder of ingredients and bring to a boil. Reduce 
heat, cover and simmer for 30 minutes to 1 hour until 
meat is tender. Serves 4-6. 



Venison and Vegetable Stir-fry 

1 cup water 

X A cup soy sauce 

2 tablespoons white wine 
2 teaspoons cornstarch 




28 



1 pound venison, tenderized 

2 tablespoons oil 

10 green onions, chopped 
1 cup mushrooms, sliced 
5 cloves garlic, sliced 

3 cups broccoli and green peppers, chopped 
Hot cooked rice 

Stir together water, soy sauce, wine and cornstarch 
for marinade. Pound venison cuts with a meat 
tenderizer and cut into Mi-inch pieces. Mix meat with 
half the marinade. Refrigerate 30 minutes, remove and 
drain. Heat oil in wok or large skillet. Stir-fry onions, 
mushrooms, vegetables and garlic. Remove from wok 
or skillet. Add venison to hot pan. Stir-fry until done. 
Push meat to center and add remaining marinade. 
Cook until thick, then add vegetables to coat. Serve 
on cooked rice. Serves 4. 

Basic Venison Burgers 

1 pound ground venison 

3 tablespoons finely chopped onion 

3 tablespoons finely chopped green pepper 

X A teaspoon salt and pepper 

Vi teaspoon hickory smoke salt 

Vi teaspoon seasoning salt or one clove garlic, minced 

Mix well. Form into patties and grill, fry or broil. 

Swedish Meatballs 

1 beaten egg 

2 tablespoons milk 

1 cup soft bread crumbs (2 slices) 

Vi cup onion, chopped fine 

X A cup snipped parsley 

X A teaspoon pepper 

1 teaspoon salt 

1 pound ground venison 

Vi pound ground pork 

1 tablespoon butter 

2 tablespoons flour 

2 teaspoons beef bouillon 

2 cups milk 

2 cups of mushrooms, sliced 

or 1 can cream of mushroom soup 
1 tablespoon sherry 
Hot cooked noodles, rice or potatoes 



In a mixing bowl, combine egg and 2 tablespoons 
milk. Stir in bread crumbs, onion, parsley, pepper 
and salt. Add meats and mix well. Shape into 30 
meatballs. Cook meatballs in a large skillet in hot 
butter, turning to brown evenly. Remove from skillet 
when done and drain. Leave about 2 tablespoons of 
drippings in the skillet and add the flour, bouillon 
and a dash of pepper to the drippings and mix. Stir 
in the milk and mushrooms or soup. Cook and stir 
over medium heat until thickened and bubbly. Cook 
and stir for 1 minute and add meatballs to skillet. 
Heat through. 

Venison Pot Roast 

2-3 pound boneless venison roast 

2 tablespoons cooking oil 

% cup tomato juice 

Vi cup finely chopped onion 

Vi cup finely chopped carrot 

2 teaspoons beef bouillon 

3 tablespoons flour 

Vi cup sour cream or plain yogurt 

Remove all fat from roast. In a 4- to 6-quart pot, 
brown meat in oil. Blot any remaining oil or fat. 
Add juice, onion, carrot and bouillon. Bring to 
a boil, then reduce heat and simmer, covered, for 
Wi to 2 hours until meat is tender. Remove meat. 
To make a sauce, add water to juices to equal 
2 cups of liquid. Stir flour into sour cream or 
yogurt. Stir into juices in pot. Cook and stir 
over medium heat until thickened and bubbly. 
Season to taste. Serves 4-5. 



Pot Roast and Vegetables 

2-3 pound boneless venison roast 
2 tablespoons cooking oil 
Vi cup chopped onion 

1 clove sliced garlic 

2 teaspoons beef bouillon 
Salt and pepper to taste 
Peeled potatoes, carrots 

and onions 



Remove all fat from roast. In a 4- to 6-quart pot, 
brown meat in oil. Blot any remaining oil or fat. 
Add onion, garlic, bouillon, salt and pepper. Pour in 




29 



1 to 2 cups water and cover. Bring to a boil, then reduce 
heat and simmer, covered, for lVi to 2 hours until meat 
is tender. Add vegetables cut into chunks for quicker 
cooking. Make sure vegetables are covered with broth or 
add enough water to cover. Allow vegetables to simmer 
in broth for 30 minutes. 

Venison Loin Roast 

1 cup ground pecans or walnuts 
Vi cup breadcrumbs 

2 tablespoons fresh parsley, chopped 
2 tablespoons oil 

2 teaspoons coarse black pepper 

Vi teaspoon salt 

3-pound boneless venison loin roast 

Combine nuts, breadcrumbs, parsley, oil, pepper and 
salt in a bowl. Place the roast on a rack in a roast pan 
and rub with a small amount of oil. Coat the roast with 
the nut mixture on all sides, pressing to make it stick. 
Roast in the oven at 425° F. for 30 minutes or until 
desired doneness. Let rest for 5 minutes before slicing. 

M ushroom and Venison Stew 

Good for strong or tough venison 

2 tablespoons flour 

1-2 pounds venison stew meat, cut in %-inch cubes 

2 tablespoons cooking oil 

3 teaspoons beef bouillon 

4 cups water 

1 large onion, cut into wedges 

1 clove garlic, sliced 

1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce 

X A cup red wine 

Vi teaspoon marjoram 

Vi teaspoon oregano 

1 bay leaf 

1 teaspoon coarse pepper 

2Vi cups cubed potatoes 

1 cup sliced carrots 

1 cup sliced celery 

Wi cups sliced mushrooms 

Drench meat cubes in flour and brown in a large 
saucepan in hot oil. Drain oil. Add the bouillon, water, 
onion, garlic, Worcestershire, wine, herbs, salt and 
pepper. Bring to a boil and simmer until meat is tender 





(1-2 hours). Stir in potatoes, carrots, celery and 
mushrooms. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat. 
Simmer 20-30 minutes until vegetables are done. 
Remove bay leaf. Serves 6. 



Grilled Kabobs 

1 pound venison sirloin 

1 recipe herb-lemon marinade 

(see page 27) 
1 medium onion, cut into wedges 
1 small zucchini, Mi-inch slices 
1 red or green pepper, cut in 1-inch pieces 
Whole mushrooms 
Cherry tomatoes 



Partially freeze venison and slice ^-inch thick. 
Pour % of the marinade over venison and 
refrigerate for 3-4 hours. Steam onion, zucchini 
and green pepper in microwave until almost done. 
Remove and drain. Toss all vegetables in remaining 
marinade to coat. Thread meat and vegetables on 
metal or bamboo skewers. Grill for 10-12 minutes 
or until meat is done. Brush with remaining 
marinade from vegetables. Serves 4. 

Swiss Steak 

1-2 pounds venison round steak 

3 tablespoons flour 

Vi teaspoon salt 

Va teaspoon pepper 

2 tablespoons oil 

1 16-ounce can tomatoes, sliced 

1 medium onion, sliced and ringed 

Vi cup sliced celery 

Vi cup sliced carrot 

Vi teaspoon thyme 

Rice or noodles 

Cut steaks into 4 or more pieces. Mix flour, salt and 
pepper. Tenderize meat with a mallet, pounding 
flour mixture into meat. Brown meat in a large 
skillet of hot oil. Remove all oil. Add tomatoes, 
onion, celery, carrot and thyme. Bring to a boil, 
then reduce heat. Cover and simmer for 1-2 hours, 
until meat is tender. (Or place in covered casserole 
dish and bake for 1 hour at 350° F.) Serve with rice 
or noodles. Makes 4 servings. 




30 



Green Bean Stir-Fry 

Sauce 

2 teaspoons cornstarch 

V3 cup beef broth 

1 tablespoon soy sauce 

1 tablespoon sherry 

1 teaspoon cider vinegar 

Stir-fry ingredients 

1 tablespoon oil 

1 pound green beans, trimmed and sliced diagonally 

2 teaspoons finely minced fresh ginger 
2 cloves garlic, minced 

X A teaspoon hot red pepper flakes 

Vi pound ground venison or steak sliced for stir-fry 

Mix together all of the sauce ingredients and set aside. 
Heat the oil in a wok or large skillet and add the green 
beans. Stir-fry beans for about 4 minutes or until 
tender. Remove and set beans aside. Add the ginger 
and garlic to the pan and cook them lightly. Add the 
pepper and venison, crumbling the venison with a fork 
or spatula. Stir-fry until meat is done, then add sauce 
mix. Cook and stir until sauce thickens. Fold in the 
green beans and heat for 1 minute. Serve with rice or 
noodles. Serves 4. 

Venison Stroqanoff 

1 pound venison sirloin steak 

1 8-ounce carton sour cream 

2 tablespoons flour 
Vi cup water 

2 teaspoons beef bouillon 

Vi teaspoon salt 

X A teaspoon pepper 

2 tablespoons margarine or butter 

Wi cups sliced mushrooms 

Vi cup chopped onion 

1 clove garlic 

Hot cooked noodles 

Partially freeze venison and slice across the grain into 
bite-size strips. Stir together sour cream and flour. 
Stir in water, bouillon, salt and pepper. Set aside. In a 
large skillet, cook and stir the meat in hot butter until 
done. Remove from skillet. Add mushrooms, onion 
and garlic. Cook and stir until done. Mix meat and 



vegetables together. Stir flour mixture into skillet. Cook 
and stir until thick and bubbly. Serve over noodles. 
Serves 4. 

H a ppy C amper Venison 

1 pound ground venison or 4 small chops 
4 tablespoons butter 

4 potatoes, peeled and sliced 

2 medium onions, cleaned and quartered 
4 carrots, sliced 

Seasoning salt 
Salt and pepper 
Honey 

Form ground venison into 4 burgers or separate chops. 
Tear off four sheets of heavy aluminum foil for grilling. 
Place burger in center of foil and cover with sections of 
onion and a pat of butter. Lay slices of carrot and potato 
atop onion. Sprinkle with salt, pepper and seasoning 
as you layer vegetables. Drizzle with honey. Seal foil 
packet and repeat for other three meat patties. Place on 
grill or hot coals and cook for about 1 hour. Check for 
doneness. Serves 4. 

Canned Venison 

Vension, cut into cubes 

Salt 

Beef soup bone 

Water 

Quart jars 

Lids and seals 

Brown cubed pieces of vension in water in a soup 
pot. Add a beef soup bone to give the broth some 
fat. Fill quart-jars with vension within 1-inch of lid. 
Add 1 teaspoon salt (Vi teaspoon for pint-jars.) Fill 
jar with enough broth to just cover meat. Pressure- 
cook according to your cooker manufacturer's 
recommendations or for 90 minutes at 10 pounds. 




31 











i-iunteruDservaiion Kecora 


Date 


Hours 

Spent 

Hunting 


County 


Deer 

Stand 

Location 


Number of Deer Seen 


Notes 


Does 


Fawns 


Bucks 


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32 





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35 




Serving nature and you 



Equal opportunity to participate in and benefit from programs of the Missouri Department of Conservation is available to all individuals without 
regard to their race, color, national origin, sex, age or disability. Questions should be directed to the Department of Conservation, P.O. Box 180, 
Jefferson City, MO 65102, (573) 751-4115 (voice) or 800-735-2966 (TTY), or to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Division of Federal Assistance, 4401 
N. Fairfax Drive, Mail Stop: MBSP-4020, Arlington, VA 22203. 



W00010 



11/2007